President Joe Biden delivered an unclear answer on how he views China and what his administration's policy will be to take on the emerging superpower at a CNN town hall event hosted by Anderson Cooper on Tuesday.
COOPER: You just talked to China's president, I believe.
BIDEN: Yes, for two hours.
COOPER: What about the Uyghurs? What about human rights abuses in China?
BIDEN: The Uyghurs.
We must speak up for human rights. It's who we are. We can't -- my comment to him was -- and I know him well, and he knows me well. We're -- a two-hour conversation.
COOPER: You talked about this to him?
BIDEN: I talked about this too.
And that's not so much refugee, but I talked about it. I said, look -- Chinese leaders, if you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been the time China when has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven't been unified at home.
So, the central -- to vastly overstate it, the central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.
I point out to him, no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn't reflect the values of the United States. And so the idea I'm not going to speak out against what he's doing in Hong Kong, what he's doing with the Uyghurs in western mountains of China, and Taiwan, trying to end the One-China policy by making it forceful, I said -- by the way, he said he gets it.
Culturally, there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow. But my point was that, when I came back from meeting with him and traveling 17,000 miles with him when I was vice president and he was the vice president -- and that's how I got to know him so well, at the request of President Hu -- not a joke -- his predecessor, President Hu, and President Obama wanted us to get to know one another, because he was going to the president.
And I came back and said, they're going to end their one-child policy, because they're so xenophobic, they won't let anybody else in. And more people are retired than working. How can they sustain economic growth when more people are retired?
COOPER: When you talk to him, though, about human rights abuses, is that just -- is that as far as it goes in terms of the U.S.? Or is there any actual repercussions for China?
BIDEN: Well, there will be repercussions for China. And he knows that.
What I'm doing is making clear that we, in fact, are going to continue to reassert our role as spokespersons for human rights at the U.N. and other agencies that have an impact on their attitude. China is trying very hard to become the world leader and to get that moniker. And to be able to do that, they have to gain the confidence of other countries.
And as long as they're engaged in activity that is contrary to basic human rights, it's going to be hard for them to do that.
But it's more much more complicated than that. I'm -- I shouldn't try to talk China policy in 10 minutes on television here.
COOPER: Well, let me bring it back to the United States.